It was when an aunt waited for us at The Oriental Wok. She stood before the table, holding her first grandchild up for our oohing, our ahhing. It was when we had lunch with a coworker & his wife. She held up her baby to me, an eager light in her eyes, eager for me to admire her creation. It was when a shelter volunteer brought in her baby, saying, Doesn’t it make you want one? It was when a cousin insisted I’d want a child, when she grimaced, shook her head, insisting, You’ll be lonely in your old age if you don’t.
It was at these times, afterwards, that I walked out into our field, past winter’s pale green grass, past sharp trees bent like crone fingers, in the throes of a serrated wind, & sat in the wide-bottomed wooden swing, hung with thick braided rope from the beam made by my husband. From my swooping perspective, I heard trees rattle, brown bones bouncing off one another, saw woods straining at edges of field, aspiring to be as tall as moon & as vast as sky.
I kept swinging, launched myself into spring’s bluebell embrace. Wind rioted around me, tossing rain & last year’s leaves up from ground, then cast a spell so that they danced a rapid waltz, stirring up soil from its cauldron of earth into an uproar of petrichor.
My legs propelled me even further, & I plunged into the side of a strawberry moon, rolled in its delicious dimples, & rested in its ruby flesh. Murmurations of starlings & hibiscus blooms whirled around me, twisting in a tumult of shapes—singing bowls, pinwheels, hourglasses.
When leaves dried & shrank, their edges slowly curling into arthritic fingers, it was then that they burned brightest & I swung the highest, gasping at the blaze around me—flames of burgundy & saffron bloomed in the woods, raging in sun, waiting under moon like shaggy satyrs, slick with rain’s brilliance in storm. Wind cast words down to me, words like hum & spur sway & wane swell & ode addle & splash bask & ache & my lips spoke a psalm—skitter-dance of starlings on roof.
Up so high, my limbs had lengthened into boughs, my torso splintered into trunk, my hair threaded into nest, my eyes shattered into those of ant, caterpillar, cardinal.
t.m. thomson’s work has most recently appeared in Pensive and Hamilton Stone and will appear in Raw Art Review and Jelly Bucket in the upcoming months. Three of her poems have been nominated for Pushcart Awards: “Seahorse and Moon” in 2005, “I Walked Out in January” in 2016, and “Strum and Lull” in 2018. She is the author of Strum and Lull (2019) and The Profusion (2019), which placed in Golden Walkman’s 2017 chapbook competition, and co-author of Frame and Mount the Sky (2017). She has a writer’s page at https://www.facebook.com/TaunjaThomsonWriter/.
A Song for t.m.